No Team Orders Says Vettel
Monaco Grand Prix race winner Sebastian Vettel has denied that Ferrari’s race strategy was part of a pre-arranged plan to switch its cars around to benefit his Formula 1 title hopes.
Vettel jumped ahead of polesitter and race leader Kimi Raikkonen by staying out five laps longer during the only pitstop phase of the race, prompting suggestions that it was a predetermined strategy to swap the cars around.
When asked if the strategy was a result of team orders, which are not illegal in F1, Vettel said: “Not really, there was no plan on team orders.
“We spoke about the race before and it was clear – the lead normally gets priority, and if I had the choice to go first, that is normally what you want to do.
“This is one of those rare times where the ‘overcut’ [stopping after a rival] is positive.
“The rule of thumb, if you qualify ahead you get priority at the first stop. Today it worked out in my favour and I take it.”
Vettel said he could understand if Raikkonen – who said his result didn’t “count a lot” – wasn’t happy after the race.
“There is no reason to lie, I am very happy,” said Vettel. “But I can understand he is a bit more upset.
“For me [the strategy] meant staying ahead of Valtteri [Bottas] and close to Kimi – I was surprised when I came out ahead.
Wehrleim Slams Button
Pascal Wehrlein hit out at Jenson Button for what he called a “silly move” that led to their accident at the Monaco Grand Prix.
The duo collided at Portier near the end of the race when Button dove down the inside of Wehrlein, touching his right rear wheel and sending him into the wall.
Wehrlein’s car flipped onto its side and ended up against the barriers. The safety car had to be deployed as a result.
The Sauber driver had no doubt that his McLaren rival was to blame for the crash.
“He was nowhere, clearly this corner is no place to overtake. It was a silly move,” Wehrlein said.
Wehrlein’s helmet made contact with the barrier and the German said he will need to have a scan next week to make sure everything is fine following the back injury that led to him missing the first two races of the season.
“I touched again the head on the barrier, so I will have to do another scan next week for my back, so let’s see,” he said.
Kyvat Blasts Perez
Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat has slammed Force India rival Sergio Perez for a “desperate, stupid” overtaking attempt that ended with the Russian retiring from the Monaco Grand Prix.
Perez, who had spent much of the race outside of the points after an early stop to replace a broken front wing, was charging back into the top 10 in the closing stages and put on new tyres during the safety car triggered by the Jenson Button – Pascal Wehrlein collision.
The Mexican had edged alongside McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne on the restart for 10th, the Belgian going into the Ste Devote barriers as Perez took the position, and then wound up on the back of Kvyat’s Toro Rosso.
On the 72nd lap, Perez attempted a late dive down the inside of Rascasse, colliding with Kvyat and putting him out of the race. The Mexican himself had to pit with damage, ending a 15-race streak of top-10 finishes.
Kvyat said after the race: “I was already just doing my job, just going to the finish, after all that happened this weekend I would be very happy with P9. I obviously knew he [Perez] had fresher tyres, I saw what he did to Vandoorne and I thought ‘okay, this guy really is desperate’.
“So I was just covering my line, to be honest, all the time and then he tried to go from really far away, I didn’t even see it coming. And what I felt was just a hit, and my race was over.
“He just tried to, you know, lean on me like it was PlayStation, and it doesn’t work like that.
Hamilton Had An Unusual Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton says his Mercedes had the most “unusual” feel he had ever experienced over the Monaco Grand Prix weekend, as his team chases answers for its weekend tyre mystery.
Mercedes was left on the back foot in Monte Carlo as it failed to fully get on top of managing tyre temperatures on the tricky street circuit.
That opened the way for Ferrari to deliver a 1-2 finish that has helped Sebastian Vettel open up a 25-point advantage in the drivers’ championship over Hamilton.
While Mercedes does not yet have an answer for what went wrong, Hamilton said the scale of the team’s problem was particularly big because of how strange the weekend had been.
“It was not a happy car, that’s for sure,” said Hamilton. “It was the most unusual way the car has felt in all the years I’ve been with the team. Definitely a difficult one.
“But I think that doesn’t deter the fact that we have a great car. It’s just perhaps we didn’t hit the nail on the top of the head this weekend.
“So we’ll regroup, get the car back to where we know it’s comfortable for the next races, try to understand the ultrasoft tyre a bit better and, yeah, come back stronger.”
Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff described the W08 as a bit of a ‘diva’ – in that it was very particular about its operating window.
Bottas Feeling Unlucky
Valtteri Bottas felt “unlucky” not to finish on the podium in Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix after losing out to Red Bull Formula 1 driver Daniel Ricciardo in a mid-race strategic battle.
Bottas came close to scoring his second F1 pole for Mercedes on Saturday, qualifying third just 0.045 seconds behind pole-sitter Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari.
Bottas spent the early part of the race running third before being pitted to cover Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who had been close behind in fourth prior to the stop.
Bottas emerged ahead of Verstappen, only for the pair to struggle through traffic around Monaco’s tight streets, allowing Ricciardo – who had been fifth before the stops – to jump up to third after running longer in clear air.
A late-race mistake from Ricciardo gave Bottas a glimpse of third in the closing stages, but the Finn ultimately had to settle for P4 at the line.
“For sure it’s disappointing because I think third was possible today,” Bottas said. “But we were definitely more unlucky, as well, compared to the Red Bull and Ricciardo.
Sainz Had A Perfect Weekend
Carlos Sainz says he and Toro Rosso executed a ‘perfect weekend’ to maximise their opportunities and secure the team’s first top six finish of the season in the Monaco Grand Prix.
The Spaniard avoided drama – and the wall – all weekend to impress with his run to sixth on the grid in qualifying, a position he’d maintain to the chequered flag to equal his best-ever result in F1.
Praising the pace of his STR12, which has struggled at more power dependent circuits so far this year, Sainz is particularly proud to have achieved the result in such an iconic location.
“A perfect weekend for us, the result we needed. It is not like every year you do a perfect weekend in the best race of the season and that is Monaco, so I think we have to enjoy it. From FP1 I built it up little by little, in qualifying I had a very good lap and in the race no mistakes. If there is a weekend you want to do it, it is Monaco.
Better still, it was achieved whilst under pressure from Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, who was bidding to claw back time ahead of his pit-stop in an effort to overcut Sainz. However, the Toro Rosso driver’s pace would be too strong for Hamilton to recover.
“I knew he was going to put some pressure on me in the last 20 laps of the race, I think they told me on the radio Hamilton stayed out and is pushing, he will attack you at the end of the race with a fresher tyre.
Haas First Double Points Finish
Haas Formula 1 chief Günther Steiner was pleased to see the team pick up its first double-points finish on Sunday in Monaco despite a number of in-race issues that looked poised to scupper its chances.
Romain Grosjean enjoyed a relatively trouble-free race en route to eighth place, but team-mate Kevin Magnussen looked set to miss out on a top-10 finish after suffering a puncture late on.
However, a mix of late-race attrition and a safety car brought Magnussen back up to 10th, giving Haas five points and its first double-score in F1.
“A first time with two cars in the points is something we wanted to achieve this year,” Steiner said. “We achieved it in race six. We wanted it before then, but race six is not too bad. Like I said after qualifying, everybody did a good job.
“We fell out of the points and we got back in after the puncture, so I think we can be pretty happy and content with what we did here. Everybody executed. We never lost our cool. We always stayed on top of it. We got unlucky, but then we got lucky again at the end, so we’re fine.
“We’re maturing. It takes time to mature and I think, now, we see some results. There will still be ups and downs, but we’re always making steps. Sometimes you don’t see them because we’re not in the points, so nobody realizes, but the team has not just made a magic step today. We’ve made improvements over the last six months.”